In Your Midst
Image of the Divine
July 2006

Blessed Marie Rose Durocher:  A Life in Pictures

    The Cathedral’s latest art treasure now hangs in the Mother Mary Rose Conference Room at the new Pastoral Outreach Center. The icon was commissioned as part of the Centennial Campaign as a tribute to the Sisters of the Holy Names who have ministered in the Cathedral parish for nearly 100 years.

    The icon, created by Cathedral iconographer Joan Brand-Landkamer, tells the story of the life of this young French Canadian nun through vignettes—scenes of her life, places she lived. The story begins in the upper left-hand corner of the image, where we see the birth of Eulalie on October 6, 1811 in the village of Saint-Antoine-sur-Richelieu. In the next panel we see Eulalie with her numerous brothers and sisters, three of whom died in infancy (and who are represented by little tombstones). The family was pious and five of the eight children dedicated their lives to service in the Church—three as priests and two as religious.  Eulalie’s First Communion is depicted in the upper right, then her ministry in her brother’s parish, where for twelve years she worked hard at everything from organizing the Legion of Mary, and teaching the catechism to children, to ironing altar linens! All this would be great preparation for her own life’s work.

    It was the saintly Bishop Ignace Bourget who invited Eulalie to found a new religious community, the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, based on an order of the same name in Marseilles, France. She faced much opposition but eventually founded the first house at Longueuil along with her new sisters, Melodie Dufresne and Henriette Cere. It wasn’t long before new recruits were begging to join the community. In 1844, after a year of preparation, the three foundresses received their “holy habit” and made their vows. They also received their religious names, and Eulalie Durocher became Mother Marie Rose.

    New houses quickly followed while the number of sisters grew. A biography describes Mother Marie Rose as “a methodical, orderly woman… a capable administrator, dynamic and creative.” “She was the artisan of a light-hearted feeling in the house.” A sister described her as “a cultured lady.” She was a gifted teacher and (not surprisingly) had a genius for communicating the mysteries of faith to young people. She explained things “in a clear, precise way, that was lively and practical, and with such fervor that the smallest girls one day asked their teacher: ‘Are the angels holier than the Mother Foundress?’”

    Thirty-two at the time of her call to religious life, Mother Marie Rose died on her thirty-eighth birthday, after only five years as a nun. “God will take care of you,” she told the community gathered around her deathbed. And she was right. Today there are more than 1,500 religious working in Canada and the US and many parts of the world. Mother Marie Rose was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1982. Blessed Marie Rose Durocher, pray for us!

Maria Laughlin

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